The Golden State Warriors will hope to record their first win of the season when they visit Sacramento to face the Kings at Golden 1 Center on Friday night.
With their road record ranked a paltry 27th last season, this presents as an important opportunity for the Warriors to begin rewriting one of their wrongs. That importance is only heightened after a disappointing 108-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, while the Kings began their season on the right foot with a comfortable win over the Utah Jazz.
A number of Golden State Warriors players will feel some personal pressure ahead of an early litmus test against the Sacramento Kings.
Golden State will again be without four-time All-Star Draymond Green, with Sacramento set to miss their own veteran forward in Trey Lyles. It’s the first of three games in four days for the Warriors, making for an interest watch on how Steve Kerr manages his older core.
Following a loss in which a number of players underperformed, there will be a few desperate to bounceback on a personal level. Let’s have a look at the three Warriors most under pressure ahead of the matchup with the Kings.
1. Andrew Wiggins
Wiggins’ placid performance against Phoenix was a major storyline, with Kerr taking him out of the closing lineup in favor of third-year forward Jonathan Kuminga. The Canadian missed a couple of easy baskets at the rim and finished with just 10 points on 4-12 shooting, but it was his defense and lack of rebounding (no defensive boards) that was most concerning.
As usual, Wiggins will have a vitally important role guarding dynamic Kings guard De’Aaron Fox. Without Green’s presence, the need for the 28-year-old to return to his defensive best is only magnified. Overall aggression from Wiggins will be key to turning around his fortunes on both ends of the floor.
2. Klay Thompson
After shooting less than 30% from the floor during preseason, it was more of the same from Thompson against the Suns. The 33-year-old finished with just 15 points, shooting 6-18 from the floor and 3-11 from three-point range.
Thompson’s defense on Kevin Durant was a positive, and he’ll have another task guarding either Harrison Barnes (33 points against the Jazz) or impressive second-year forward Keegan Murray. He also had seven rebounds against Phoenix, an important element to continue particularly while Green’s out.
Ultimately the Warriors don’t pay Thompson for his post-defense or his rebounding though, so it will be important he finds his shooting range should he and the franchise wish to tick one off in the win column.
3. Kevon Looney
Very rare that Looney would be under any external pressure, such is his usual consistent performance and general anonymity compared to the team’s stars. However, the 27-year-old was below his best and was outplayed by Phoenix big man Jusuf Nurkic on Tuesday.
Adding to that, Looney will have the task of stopping All-Star big Domantas Sabonis, one he passed with flying colours during last season’s playoffs. The eyes of both sets of fans will be eagerly on the individual matchup as a result, placing some pressure on each player to perform.